Monday, May 16, 2016

Back to the Beach 2016 race report

This was my 6th straight year running this event.  If I wasn't stubborn (stupid?) I would have dropped down to the 10K race, but I wanted to keep my streak alive.

In what has become a common theme at a lot of my races, I went in to it well over race weight, and way underprepared.  In 2016 I've only run 7 miles three times, and 7.5 miles once.  Not exactly the mileage needed to be prepared for a half marathon - especially one with as many hills as this one.  The only advantage to be unprepared is not having any expectations for performance - I was hoping for 2:50 at best and thought I'd be closer to a 3:00 finish.

This year the weather was decidedly un-beachy.  It snowed on the way to the race, snowed after I got to the venue, and snowed off and on during the race - including as I crossed the finish line.  It was very breezy and cold as we waited to start the race right off the lake, and at other open locations along the route.  It made it hard to decide what to wear.  The night before the race I thought I'd be OK with a long sleeve tech shirt with a T-shirt over the top and a lightweight pair of gloves.  The cold wind had me questioning that decision, and I spent a good deal of time before the race just looking at what everyone else was wearing.  I finally decided to wear that shirt combo, along with my lightweight coat over the top.  I was overheating just before 3 miles in, so I took off the T-shirt and stuffed it in the coat pocket.  I was still a bit warm for most of the remainder of the race, but I'd have frozen without the coat.

I lined up near the back of the crowd and took off at the back of Wave 5.  Took it slow and easy the first couple of miles through the trolley trails, then tried to settle in on the net downhill paved portion of the course.  Lots of enthusiastic volunteers as usual.  They had to be pretty cold!  Settled in leapfrogging with the same bunch of people as we were all on different run/walk schedules.  For me I walked every uphill, and ran every downhill and most flats.  Got in a lot of speed/powerwalking.

I tried to take in the scenery, and enjoyed the trees in blossom.  We passed over some rushing creeks, and got a peek at a small waterfall through the underbrush.

We had received an email on Thursday notifying us that on one of the roads there was a deer that had been struck by a car.  They had made a lot of calls to try to get it removed, but couldn't guarantee it wouldn't be there Sunday morning.  Fortunately it must have been removed, since I didn't see or smell it!

At the halfway point I took my traditional drink of beer and was briefly re-energized after going thru the aid station.  The course was now back in the woods and thru fields on two-track trails.  We only had a mile and a half before the big hill at mile 8.  Somewhere in here I started to feel the need to hit the bathroom.  I made it thru the aid station about a 1/4 mile before the big hill, and was treated to a rousing rendition of "Jingle Bells".  There were also several people wearing parkas and hula skirts!

Ran a little further on and got to a portapotty where I made a quick stop and then started my trudge up the hill.  This was then followed by a steep quad-busting downhill.  After this leveled out a bit I nearly took a tumble as I tripped over a root.  I was doing math in my head trying to determine what pace I'd need to maintain to not get swept in case I needed to switch over to powerwalk mode.  Fortunately I had enough time in the bank that this wasn't a concern.  Made it out of the woods and onto the undulating paved bike path. In most years this is where the sun's heat bakes you, but this year the brisk wind kept things really cool.

Soon enough we were off the paved path and back onto the grass.  Mile 12 was the fiesta time aid station, then we started encountering the 5K racers.  Those lead guys were flying!  A few more hills then it was time for the last downhill to the finish line.

I collected my big medal and some water.  Grabbed a half bagel and a banana and headed quickly back to my truck to get warm and start heading for home.

Final stats:
Time 2:46:57
38/43 A/G
619/667 OA


Monday, March 21, 2016

Second day of spring

Well the calendar says it's spring, but the weather doesn't agree.  It's cold out there!

I'm making slow progress with my running.  Got in a 6 mile run on Saturday - making it my longest run since NC24, and a total of 22.8 for the week.  I still haven't caught my pace bunny, but at least he's pulling away as quickly anymore.

I'm also starting to inch the weight on the scale downward.  At this rate I'll still be a lot closer to 150 than 140 by the time Back to the Beach rolls around, but I'm only in it for the bling anyway.  I do need to start climbing the stairs more often at work if I have any hope of surviving the hills.

Friday, March 4, 2016

It's been a while....

After NC24 last fall I fell off the running wagon.  I went in to it undertrained, and afterwards I needed to recuperate and heal.  Then in October my beloved treadmill for over 10 years started lurching around trying to kill me, so I started shopping around for a new one.  Since my old NordicTrack treated me so well I opted to head to Sears and test out a few models.  Found one I liked and head it delivered and set up.  I HATED IT at home!  After a couple short weeks decided to send it back.

I now started doing a lot of online research and found a place in Sterling Heights that sold True, Spirit and Precor TM's.  I went there and tried a few of them out, then went back a second time for longer test runs.  Much to my chagrine, the TM I liked best was the one of the most expensive ones.  After debating a couple weeks, I finally pulled the trigger and bought a Precor 425 on sale on Black Friday, and it was delivered on Saturday.  I only ran on it a few times before getting shingles, and that limited me to walking short distances slowly.  By the end of December I could run again, but unfortunately this TM also felt a lot harder to run on at home than it did at the store. 

I've been dreading my runs on it and have started scouring the internet to see if anyone has my old model - the NordicTrack C2420 - for sale.  I have found a couple, but they're either in California, Utah or Massachusetts. I'm not that crazy to drive that far.

It probably doesn't help that I've gained a good amount of weight thru the fall - and I still haven't lost anything.  I have no will power.

Anyway, if anyone reads this and knows of anyone selling my trusty old model and it's in Michigan or northern Ohio or Indiana let me know.

In the meantime I'll continue to slowly plod along on the Precor and look forward to warmer dryer weather.  In the past running outside always felt harder than the TM, I think this year it will feel a lot easier.

Friday, September 25, 2015

2015 NC24 Post-mortem



This will be long and boring – so you’ve been warned – you might want to skip down several paragraphs, or go to the end where I’ve put a race tally/synopsis.  I’ve spent several days digesting the weekend, and trying to decide what if anything I wanted to write. 

After 3 years of disappointing performances at this event, I hadn’t intended to sign up for the 2015 edition.  Then my mom decided that after reading about it, and she wanted to try to do it. Since I knew I couldn’t just come and crew, I reluctantly signed up, too.

My training had been lackluster for the first half of the year, not only was my heart not in it from the start, but then my mom’s health started to fail causing her to be unable to even walk a couple houses at a time some days.  I would be going without her, if I chose to go at all.

At the beginning of July I tweaked my back at work, so I backed off on the miles while it healed, then in the middle of July I broke the baby toe on my right foot.  Training was officially derailed.  I was in a walking boot for 3 weeks, then spent another 3 weeks slowly starting to walk again.  I had about 2 ½ weeks where I started on a run/walk regiment, but never exceeded about 16 mi/wk.  So needless to say, showing up at NC24 this year with 68 miles of “training” since July 1st , and being 20 lbs over race weight was not a recipe for success.

I had several friends who I knew only from online, and several others I knew from previous years who were going to be there, so my focused shifted from training, to just looking forward to being with friends, talking and eating.  It was kind of refreshing going in with no goals other than to have a good time.  Being untrained and overweight freed me from putting pressure on myself to perform, and the forecasted rain and wind were just minor annoyances rather than something to obsess over.

I left for Cleveland Friday afternoon, got checked in to my hotel, then made a trip to Walmart for beer, and a couple other items before heading to the park to meet up with friends for what has become our traditional pre-race get together.  It was good to get to the park the night before, because construction again had the exit to the park closed, and this gave me an opportunity to check out the detour.  I still got turned around, but it made the trip Saturday morning a lot easier.  Once at the park, we were all pleasantly surprised when Katrina and baby made an appearance. After pizza and conversation it was time to head back to the hotel to relax and get organized for the next day.

I woke up, showered and headed down for breakfast.  Ate a small cheese omelet and some biscuit and gravy, and some orange juice.  Packed up my stuff and headed to the park.  Since I’m not a morning person I was about the last to arrive, and our big group and campsite were bustling with activity.  We posed for pictures, then started walking to the starting line.  This event always makes me laugh at the start because it seems like a lot of us are competing to start at the back of the pack!

The day started dry and windy, but rain was forecast for the afternoon - of course - it's Cleveland and it always rains at NC24!  I had tentatively planned on a 4:1 run:walk ratio, and I did just that – for ONE lap.  I decided that with my lack of training, and with what to me was very humid conditions, that I would just run the downhill sections and those with the wind at my back, and walk most everything else.   This plan held up for about the first 4 or so hours, then my running segments became shorter and shorter.  I think I decided by about 6 hours in that my running was over and I would be in full on walk mode.  I also did the math and thought if I kept going the whole time 100K might be obtainable.
In past years I had problems with either blisters or my back, or both, and this year was no different.  I had pre-taped some spots on my feet that always blister, and fortunately only had small, non-painful blisters on them at the end.  Within the first hour I could feel a hot spot developing on my right heel, so I stopped and taped that, and it caused me no further problems.  Around 5 or so hours in I started feeling a hot spot on the left heel and stopped to tape that.  Unfortunately that had already developed into a good sized blister so I headed to the foot care tent for the first time to get patched up.  We also saw that I had a blister on my left big toe, but since it was hurting we just left it alone.  My back and hips started aching so around 4:00pm I made my first stop in the med tent to get stretched out. 

Sometime during the afternoon the winds picked up and the rain began to fall.  People were fighting to keep from having tents blown away.  While the rain never came down heavily, it still stung in the strong winds.

As we started closing in on 6:00pm, I could feel myself tiring and it became harder to keep moving with any purpose.  I stopped at camp a few times to rest and stretch, and tried to keep quiet the voices in my head telling me I could stop once I hit 50K.  This became really difficult by 7:00pm as my feet were really hurting me and the blistered spot on my left heel became extremely painful.  I stopped at camp again, short of 50K by just a lap, and was just about in tears.  I hurt so badly.  I asked Michael Couch to go to my truck and get my slippers because I couldn’t walk another step in my shoes.  Thank you Michael!  I put those on and forced myself to begin a slow walk around the course to the foot care tent again.  Once there we learned that the patch they put on my heel had come off, and the blistered area had grown.  I got my foot wrapped up, and slowly hobbled out.  I stopped at camp again, changed socks and shoes, and because my little toe on that foot seemed to be catching on my sock, I taped it. 

Somewhere in here I stopped to put on a jacket and pants, because with my slowed pace it was getting hard for me to keep warm.  The wind was still blowing, and had shifted to the north, and the waves crashing on the rocks would cause a cold mist to blow in on us. 

With the pain in my foot greatly lessened, I was able to head back out and put in some more laps, though I seemed to be stopping after every lap for a break now and my back was getting really sore and tight again.  Around 9:00pm I made another stop at the med tent to get stretched out, and they noticed my psoas muscles were really tight, and that was causing pain in my back and in my upper hamstring/butt area.  I got out of there and walked a couple slow laps before stopping at camp, feeling defeated, tired and sore.  I took a couple of ibuprofen and tried laying on the ground with my feet elevated, but I got cold, so then tried laying in Sue’s tent (hope you don’t mind) because we figured she wouldn’t be needing it.  I couldn’t get comfortable because I was so sore, so I just said screw it, I’m heading back out.  
For the next 2 ½ to 3 hrs I would walk a lap, stop and rest then repeat.  I was tired and weaving back and forth as I walked, but I noted that I wasn’t the only one out there doing that.  Fortunately the winds were starting to diminish and I wasn't fighting against them as much.  I thought there was no way I could get 100K now, and lowered my sights to 50 miles.

Then out of nowhere I realized that my feet didn’t really hurt any more, and my back wasn’t bothering me.  I got a second or third wind and my lap times started dropping, and I started moving faster.  I started doing the math to see how long it would take me to get to 50 miles and started to really want it.  My lap times went from 24:37, to 21:00, to 18:23.  I was getting warm, and took off my jacket.   I continued to feel good and picked up my pace more 16:42, then 17:22 (with bathroom break), then 15:21, 14:05 and a final lap of 15:29.  I’d done it – 50.5 miles in 19:47! 

I made a final trip to the foot care tent, where I learned Kara was in the med tent and not doing well, made a final trip to the med tent to get stretched (which was the smartest thing I’d done in the last 24 hrs), and turned in my timing chip.  I got my medal, slowly walked back to camp, packed up and headed to my hotel for a shower and rest.

My PR here is 53.2 miles – twice.  Could I have gotten a new PR?  Absolutely.  Am I upset I didn’t go for it?  Not at all.  I came in untrained and overweight with no concrete goal except to try to keep going for the whole 24 hrs and not give in to the voices telling me to quit.  And while I didn’t go the full 24, I did quiet the voices, fought thru the doubt and the pain and the darkness and at times the loneliness.  There were many times I wanted to use my broken toe or my blisters as an excuse to stop, but I kept pushing on.  During the after midnight hours I told myself “Mom can’t walk, but you can.  Don’t quit.  We’re going to get our 50 miles, Mom”. 

No, any regrets about this race don’t involve my performance, they involve not spending enough time talking with friends.   Sue and Heidi were usually moving by me in a blur, Kara was a machine out there, and Misty was steady, too.  I got to walk and talk with Diana and Krystal for a while, and George too, but not for nearly long enough.  Jen took great photos of everyone as usual – the best photographer out there!  Chris, Will, Eric and Susan – I’m glad we got to spend time together Friday and Sunday evenings.  Bob – I’m disappointed to say I neither ate any donuts, nor witnessed you eating any.  Something is just wrong with that.

This year’s race for me had a different feel to it to me.  Because rain was threatening and it was windy the whole day, we didn’t have as many people out to provide a distraction.  I think I saw part of one wedding party, and there weren’t many groups having cook-outs or playing ball or Frisbee, and worst of all – no muscular young men working out!  After the strongest of the winds had died down and the waves started crashing to shore, there were at least 3 or 4 surfers out there – I thought they were the crazy ones.

Other memories of this day/night include the gutsy performances of the firefighters in full gear, and the guy pushing his friend.  The aid station volunteers as usual doing a great job, especially when the worst of the winds hit, and they did all they could to keep things from blowing away.  Watching the top men and women effortlessly lap me hour after hour. 

Not to be forgotten:  A HUGE thanks to our Crew for the support and encouragement – Tracie, Katrina and Z always gave a little lift going by – especially with the baby cowbell and cute smiles! and Michael.  Michael you were a lifesaver, calm and caring when it was needed most.  Thanks for everything!


Race tallys:
Total time: 19:47
Total miles: 50.5
FitBit steps for both days combined:  125,849 
Shoes worn – 2 pairs (Brooks Transcend 2 and NB860), plus slippers
Socks worn – 2 pairs - Injinji
Blisters:  At least 9
Future toenail loss:  At least 2
Food and drink consumed:  PB&J, bean and cheese burritos, ramen noodles (The.Best.Ever), pizza, Star Burst candy, water, Gatorade, Coke, ginger ale, root beer, grilled cheese, peanut M&M’s, bananas, and watermelon.
Med tent visits: 3
Foot care tent visits: 3
Underrated but well appreciated feature:  Assist bar on door of porta-potty.


THE END (finally)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Well here it is, seven months or so since my last post.  I've only gotten older, slower, fatter - and unfortunately broken - as in literally broken.  On July 15th I broke my toe, so I haven't done any running since then.  I was already way behind in my training, and this completely threw me off the rails.  I had to miss the Christmas in July race I was going to do on July 17-18.  I'm still planning to go to Mackinac Island and do the 8 Mile race there, but I'm sure it will be a lot of walking.  The only good thing now about NC24 is going to be all the people.  At least I have zero pressure or expectations now, so it could be a lot of fun.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Shoe update

Well, I gave the new shoes a total of 22 miles before deciding to return them.  They continued to feel a little tight on my left foot, but the deal breaker was during my 7 mile run last Sunday.  I started feeling like my PF was coming back, and I was getting some tightness in my IT band.  I took them back to the store yesterday, and will probably go back and try some other shoes on after I get back from San Diego.

Looking forward to seeing Amy and enjoying some warm weather.  Not going to take any of my running gear and I don't feel the least bit guilty about that either.

Last week I also started running faster again.  I've been read Matt Fitzgerald's 80/20 Running book, and using his HR measurements and HR zones, I'm close to running what I thought was my "easy" pace again.  My legs certainly feel better.  Running - or shuffling - as slowly as Maffetone wanted me to go was a painful experience.  So now I'm not actually following either of them strictly.  Fitzgerald's time-based training plans would have me running so few miles it was ridiculous - I mean really - 5 minutes in Zone 1, 30 minutes in Zone 2, and 5 minutes in Zone 1 again is only 40 minutes of slow running.  I wouldn't even get 4 miles in at my slow paces.  I'm still planning to try to follow the 80/20 plan, just not with such short runs.

Monday, January 19, 2015

New Shoes!

So today I had the day of off work, so decided to go to the local running store in Port Huron, Elite Feet, and try out some new shoes.  I've been running in New Balance for years, in various degrees of motion control and stability, and more recently neutral shoes, and when I haven't been wearing NB I've worn Hoka Bondi B's.  I was hoping to try on some Altras - but they didn't have any women's Altras in stock.

Got to the store and they had me briefly run on their treadmill in my socks while they video'd my to see how much I might be pronating.  Turns out hardly any movement in the right foot, which doesn't surprise me since it is still held together with a plate and screws, and just a little bit of motion in the left foot.  The employee helping me decided we should go with neutral shoes, then measured my feet.  He recommended a size 7 1/2 which is a half size smaller than I have been wearing.  He brought out some Brooks shoes, a pair of Asics and a pair of Mizunos.  I liked the Brooks Glycerin 12's the best, and walked out a pair of bright pink shoes.  I've been wearing them around the house, and right now I'm undecided about them.  They feel a little tight on my left foot.  I have 30 days to decide, so we'll see how they feel after a few runs.